Jefferson’s is famous for taking various whiskeys — all sourced, no age statements — and putting them on a big boat for a trip around the world. The whiskey sloshes around in the barrel for months (and in the heat of the tropics) before returning back to the U.S. for bottling. Dozens of “voyages” have been completed, but this time the whiskey has completed its journey with a twist.
The catch? This edition of Jefferson’s famed Ocean Aged at Sea Bourbon (no “Voyage” on this label, by the way) is cut to proof with New York’s beloved drinking water. (It’s unclear if it’s New York City or New York State water, as the bottling was done in Kentucky.) Considering what’s in the bottle is 49% alcohol, that means 51% of it is water — not all New York water, but still, that could be a big thing, no? Let’s find out.
We’ve encountered Ocean Aged at Sea Bourbon on several occasions, but I can’t think of any instances where I’ve absolutely loved it. That changes here, as Ocean New York Edition is a killer, kicking off with a well-oaked but balanced nose that features elements of baking spice, menthol, cherry wood, and a pinch of Red Hots-driven cinnamon. Enveloping, but classic in its construction, and mercifully never overblown on the barrel influence; from the nose, this feels like it was pulled out of the barrel at just the right moment.
On the palate, the whiskey leans in to its sweeter elements, propping up notes of brown butter and gingerbread spices, rich caramel and vanilla, and a rich, silky layer of milk chocolate. Edges of orange peel provide some nuance, but this ultimately drinks with the character of digestif, almost chewy as it reaches a natural conclusion that hints at coffee bean while echoing vanilla and spice notes.
It’s a beautiful experience from front to back — though this could all have something to do with the fact that the base spirit is MGP bourbon; previous Ocean bourbons were from Kentucky, so things have changed in recent years. But hey, maybe it’s the water, right? Fuggedaboudit.
98 proof. Reviewed: Batch #5.
A / $150 / jeffersonsbourbon.com